Fans are finally back at a Premier League stadium! Arsenal supporters return to the Emirates after eight-month absence as they are greeted by applause from stewards before Europa League clash
- Some 2,000 Arsenal supporters have made their return to Emirates Stadium
- It is the first time a Premier League side has welcomed fans in since March
- Fans had to go through security checks and have their temperatures taken
- Social distancing measures have been put in place inside the stadium for fans
Fans have finally returned to watch an English top-flight side in action with Arsenal hosting Rapid Vienna in the Europa League at the Emirates Stadium.
The Gunners sold out their 2,000 tickets – which were distributed on a ‘first come, first served’ basis – for the Group B fixture inside 20 minutes on Saturday morning.
The north London side have now become the first side to take advantage of the new rules allowing fans to return in relatively small numbers following the end of lockdown on Wednesday.
Fans have returned to a Premier League ground for the first time in eight months at Arsenal
The Gunners sold out their 2,000 tickets for the Europa League game against Rapid Vienna
And many fans were seen wearing club scarves as they returned for the first time since March
Some fans fumed as the online ticketing system crashed to leave them without a ticket at the weekend, but those enough lucky enough to have got their hands on one have made their way to the Emirates for the first time since early March.
Many of the returning fans – who will be spread across two stands – were seen sporting smiles and club colours in the form of scarves as they returned to what now will be quite unfamiliar surroundings.
And in such unfamiliarity, fans have also be advised to abstain from close physical contact if and when they get to celebrate a goal scored by Mikel Arteta’s side, who could secure top spot with a result against the Austrian outfit.
Social distancing measures have been put in place – such as recycled plastic bags indicating unavailable seats and shirts put in place to show the required distanced while queuing for food and drink in the turnstiles – and masks being worn by all while inside the premises unless consuming something.
Fans had to have their temperatures taken by security staff before entering the premises
Social distancing measures are also in place when queuing for food and drink in the turnstiles
Gunnersaurus also made his return with the role of mascot now set to be rotated between staff
Fans also had to apply hand sanitiser and go through the routine security checks- which included a temperature check – before entering, while stewards were seen applauding every supporter coming through the turnstiles.
Supporters were also delighted to see the return of Gunnersaurus, with the role now rotated between members of staff after former mascot Jerry Quy was made redundant in October following a series of Covid-19 cost-cutting measures.
Ahead of the game, Gunners boss Mikel Arteta said: ‘It is going to be extraordinary to have them back.
The club are using recycled plastic bags to indicate social distancing measures in the ground
Fans will also have to wear face masks while watching the game against Rapid Vienna
‘The club has done amazing work to facilitate everybody at short notice to be able to attend the stadium and I am sure it will work really well.
‘I am feeling sorry as well for thousands of fans that I am sure would like to make it, but can’t be there.
‘We are ready to host as many as we possibly can. It is going to depend on how the pandemic develops, and the new measurements when we start to open things up a little bit and see how people react to that. Hopefully we can do that.
Fans are also being encouraged to avoid close physical contact with others in the ground
‘Who knows how it is going to develop? What we can do as a club, we will do to our maximum obviously.’
Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang also delivered a video pre-match message to supporters, stating: ‘Football is all about you: the fans.
‘We’ve missed you and we are so happy to start welcoming you back. To the 2,00 fans at the Emirates Stadium tonight and the millions around the world, thank you so much for your support.
‘Most of us are still apart, but we’re still together.’
Stewards are also back doing their usual duties at grounds with supporters returning
Food and drink is still being served once supporters have entered the turnstiles at the ground